Choisya ternataThis week I have chosen to write about the very useful evergreen shrub Choisya ternata, (common name, Mexican Orange Blossom,) which is in flower now. There are many late spring flowering shrubs to choose from – Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Ceanothus, Exochorda macromantha ‘The Bride’, Spirea nipponica ‘Snow Mound’ and the smaller, but very similar Spirea x vanhouttei (common name Bridal wreath), Deutzias, Daphnes, Pyracantha, Chaenomeles, Forsythia, Berberis, Viburnums, and, of course, if you have acid soil, there are Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Pieris and Camelias.

At this time of year, we often rely on shrubs for interest in our gardens, as the spring bulbs and perennials are coming to an end, and the summer flowering perennials are still gathering strength before their flowering season. Of course, most climbers are shrubs – Wisterias and spring flowered Clematis (including Clematis Montana), are looking good at this time of year.

Why is Choisya ternata a good choice?

What makes Choisya ternata a good choice is its versatility. It is very trouble free, and grows well in any type of soil in sun or shade. It is evergreen, usually doesn’t require pruning and has attractive medium sized glossy mid-green leaves. It is also scented. The flowers smell lovely, but, more unusually the leaves are aromatic – wonderful to brush up against when you are working in a garden, or if it is planted close to a path. It has white flowers in spring, and often has a second flush in September.

Evergreen shrubs are incredibly useful for garden designers and anyone who wants their garden to hold interest throughout the year. Choisya ternata has the advantage of not growing too big (its ultimate height and spread will be approximately 2.5metres, depending on the conditions), and maintaining an attractive shape without needing pruning. There are cultivars – Choisya ternata ‘Sundance’ has yellow-green leaves, and Choisya x dewitteana ‘Aztec Pearl’ is a smaller cultivar, popular for growing in pots.

Other evergreen shrubs

Other evergreen shrubs include:

  • Viburnum tinus
  • Prunus lusitanica (Portugal Laurel), and Prunus laurocerasus (Laurel)
  • Eleagnus x ebbingei
  • Osmanthus
  • Holly (Ilex)
  • Pittospornum
  • Camelia
  • Pieris
  • Euonymus fortunei
  • Fatsia japonica
  • Buxus sempervirons (Box)
  • Skimmia japonica
  • Sarcococca (Sweet box/Winter box)
  • some Daphnes
  • Viburnum davidii
  • Lonicera nitida (shrubby honeysuckle)
  • Escallonia
  • Laurus nobilis (Bay, or Sweet Bay)

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